Puppies are so rambunctious and adorable that their energy is often infectious. We want to get down on the ground and wrestle around with them. But the wrong message can give your puppy the impression that he can treat you just like he would a littermate by playing rough and using his sharp, needle-like teeth. That miscommunication can lead to injury and damage your relationship with your pup.
Most puppies are taught the right way to play early on in their lives, first by their mothers and then by their siblings. But if you’ve adopted a puppy who was orphaned or a stray, he might not have received that critical training from his mother. In that case, he will need you to step in and show him the correct way to behave. Even if your puppy had a typical upbringing, he still needs to learn that you are not a dog and that you expect good behavior from him, even when you’re playing. With patience and consistency, you can train your puppy to stop biting during play.
It’s natural for puppies to use their teeth and mouth when playing. After all, they are young and excitable, and they need consistent, gentle guidance to teach them how they should act around people. Training your puppy to avoid biting while playing--or in any other situation--will help build the bond between the two of you, will establish you as your dog’s leader, and will eliminate potentially painful puppy bites that will only become more painful and more dangerous as your puppy grows up.
Mimicking the way in which a dog reacts to a puppy bite can be an effective way of solving this behavioral issue. Also, substitution and redirection work, provided that you maintain consistency in training, tone, and patience. Help your puppy learn the right way to play, and you’ll have a best friend for life!
An object for redirection of your puppy’s attention can be helpful for some of these training sessions, so have a puppy-appropriate toy with you. Otherwise, the essential quality to have before you start is the right mindset. Remember you are working with a very young dog so have patience as it may take your puppy some time before he gets it right
Keep training sessions short to avoid frustration for you and boredom for your puppy. Stay consistent and upbeat, and your puppy will learn that doing what you ask is fun and rewarding.